Boozers, Users and Losers

You think the ninth grade is rough when dealing with puberty? Try it with menopause looming over your shoulder. Granted, 46-year-old freshman Jerri Blank doesn't spend a lot of time worrying about hot flashes—she's too busy trying to shake the other 86 monkeys on her back andfind a way to get elected homecoming queen. Welcome to Flatpoint High, where Jerri's misadventures spawned three years of hellacious fun on Comedy Central's Strangers With Candy. Celebrate the long-awaited feature version, to be released any day now, with an all-new six-disc compilation of the entire three-season run.

The brainchild of comedy queen/rubber-faced genius/sister of David Amy Sedaris—whose hat trick of making “reformed” ex-junkie, stripper and felon Jerri both wildly over-the-top and completely believable is something to behold—Strangers marked Comedy Central's first foray into original live-action series. Which is refreshing, given their decision not to reign in such a debut but rather let Sedaris and her creative team—the one and only Stephen Colbert (who also plays straight-arrow, kinda-gay history teacher Mr. Noblet), Paul Dinello (a.k.a. Noblet's secret squeeze, needy art teacher Mr. Jellineck) and Mitch Rouse—push the envelope as far as they could. And oh, Jesus, do they ever, all the while remaining completely true to the conventions of the message-heavy after-school specials the series sends up. (Jerri always learns a lesson, mind you—it's just inevitably the wrong one.) The killer ensemble cast includes Greg Hollimon's bellicose Principal Black Man . . . er, Blackman, scores of funny kids, and lots of cameos (look for Will Ferrell, Janeane Garofalo, Andy Richter, David Cross and a few surprises).

Tuesday's series set comes crammed with extras, including select episode commentaries, an extended Q&A from the Museum of Television and Radio's retrospective, outtakes, and a compilation of those funky-ass dance numbers. And it's all bundled up in what may be the year's best packaging—shaped like a Trapper Keeper! With colored tabs and everything! Goooood times!

Also recommended this week: Caché (Hidden); Hail! Hail! Rock 'N' Roll: Special Edition; Monk: Season 4; Tracey Takes On: Season 2; Why We Fight; Yellowbeard.

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